White House senior advisor Jared Kushner said Tuesday an economic plan to promote prosperity for the Palestinians must be approved by them as a necessary precondition for peace.
Speaking at Tuesday's opening of an economic workshop in Bahrain to jumpstart the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians, Kushner also said Palestinians cannot achieve prosperity without a fair political solution.
"Agreeing on an economic pathway forward is a necessary precondition to resolving the previously unsolvable political issues," Kushner said. "To be clear, economic growth and prosperity for the Palestinian people are not possible without an enduring and fair political solution to the conflict — one that guarantees Israel's security and respects the dignity of the Palestinian people."
Kushner, the son-in-law of U.S. President Donald Trump, said political solutions will not be addressed at the two-day meeting, but acknowledged the need to do so later.
The plan offers $27 billion in aid to the Palestinians, most of which would be financed by wealthy Arab states led by Saudi Arabia. Some $23 billion would be earmarked for poorer Arab states bordering Israel, namely, Lebanon, Jordan and Egypt.
America’s Middle East allies are attending the “Peace to Prosperity” conference that was initiated by Kushner but the key players are not there.
The Palestinian Authority is boycotting the workshop, declaring that the plan is a whitewash and dead on arrival.
Israel is not attending the conference either, because of Arab opposition to normalizing relations before the Palestinian problem is resolved.
Kushner decided on a new approach after previous U.S. administrations tried and failed to resolve the thorniest issues of the conflict: borders, Palestinian refugees, Jewish settlements and the status of Jerusalem. The Trump administration believes economic prosperity will benefit the entire region and curb extremism, but the Palestinians say they cannot be bought and that their homeland is not for sale.